zoom RSS 日韓慰安婦問題 合意履行に朴氏の責任は重い

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The Yomiuri Shimbun
Park bears heavy responsibility to implement ‘comfort women’ deal
日韓慰安婦問題 合意履行に朴氏の責任は重い

At a time when North Korea’s latest nuclear test has threatened the stability of the region, improving Japan’s relations with South Korea is an urgent task. The leadership of South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be tested on this issue.

During her New Year press conference, Park spoke about the deal Tokyo and Seoul reached late last year on the so-called comfort women issue. Park reiterated her position to seek public support for the deal, saying she would “do [her] best to ensure its content was acceptable.”

The deal is a breakthrough that improved the strained ties between Japan and South Korea. It is natural that Park will exert every possible effort to make sure the deal is smoothly implemented.

Public opinion surveys conducted in South Korea have revealed that many people are displeased with the deal. Their reasons include the view that “opinions of former comfort women were not listened to.” A support group for former comfort women blasted the deal and said it “betrayed” the South Korean people. Ripples created by this comment are spreading.

Park insisted the government had held talks with former comfort women and the support group 15 times before the deal was reached and had listened to their wishes. She emphasized that three important points ― clarifying the involvement of the former Imperial Japanese Army; an official apology from the Japanese government; and compensation funded by the Japanese side ― were all reflected in the deal.

Under the agreement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed an apology and the government recognized the involvement of military authorities at the time. The Japanese government will contribute about \1 billion as humanitarian support to a foundation the South Korean government will establish to assist former comfort women. Park’s explanation aims to deepen public understanding of the deal.

Worrying signs

It is questionable that, concerning the statue of a girl symbolizing comfort women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Park said this was “not the kind of issue the government can give orders over.” The Japanese government has demanded the statue be removed, and South Korea promised it would strive to resolve this issue in an “appropriate” manner. The statue issue must not be left unaddressed.

Recently, the Seoul Eastern District Court ordered Prof. Park Yu Ha, author of “Teikoku no Ianfu” (Comfort women of the empire), to pay compensation to former comfort women who claimed the scholar’s book defamed them.

The ruling acknowledged that, based on the 1993 Kono Statement and other sources, the comfort women had been “forcibly mobilized” and “forced to live like sex slaves.” This ruling was one-sided in contradicting Japan’s position on this issue and went too far. It must not be allowed to negatively impact the implementation of the comfort women deal.

After launching her administration, Park devoted considerable effort to strengthening ties with China. However, since North Korea’s nuclear test, it is apparent Seoul and Beijing differ in their fervor in dealing with Pyongyang.

In her “remarks to the people” that Park made at the start of her press conference, she expressed dissatisfaction with China’s refusal to ease its reluctance to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea. Park also clearly stated she would “consider” the proposed deployment of a cutting-edge U.S. missile defense system in South Korea ― a plan China opposes.

Park’s move to lessen her excessive leaning toward China, and her switch to attaching greater importance to cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea on security issues, will boost the deterrent against North Korea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 15, 2016)

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